From masked at restaurants to not spitting in the pool, what you need to know about N.H. ‘reopening’

  • Trish and John Portanova dine inside instead of outside on the patio at the La Carreta restaurant in Portsmouth on Monday. Indoor dining rooms reopened across New Hampshire as some restrictions due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak were lifted. AP

Monitor staff
Published: 6/16/2020 3:27:01 PM

New Hampshire is returning to some semblance of normal life but many things are going to be different.

How many? At least 104 pages’ worth.

That’s the length of just one supplement in Gov. Chris Sununu’s latest executive order, his 52nd since the pandemic arrived, detailing what businesses can, and cannot, do as they reopen and we try to contain the spread of COVID-19. It’s so detailed and complicated that when it was sent out Tuesday, the office forgot to update the old notice saying that ocean beaches are closed. (They aren’t.)

Much of the material in “Specific Guidelines for Businesses, Organizations and Sectors” is well known and repeated often, such as the need for businesses to provide cleaning materials for employees and customers: The phrase “hand sanitizer,” for example, appears 53 times.

There are also specific guidelines for specific events. Here are some of them to help you get started with Normal Life 2.0:

Indoor dining

“Customers should be asked to bring and wear a cloth face covering when entering and exiting a facility to protect other patrons and employees during the seating and exiting process, or when getting up to use the restroom. Cloth face coverings are not necessary while a customer is seated and dining outdoors.”

Restaurants in Merrimack County and points to the south and east cannot hold more than 50% of their maximum indoor capacity as defined by the fire marshal, and must space out tables so people are at least six feet apart. No more than six people can be at one table. Restaurants in the rest of the state don’t have a numerical limit to capacity as long as social distancing can be maintained.

Reservations or call-ahead seating is “recommended” but not required.

Bars can open as long as people can stay spaced out and don’t congregate.

“Direct customer contact employees shall wear cloth face coverings over their nose and mouth when at work and around others in settings where social distancing may be difficult (e.g. serving clients, greeting, etc.).”

“Small group bands and solo music artists are allowed to perform in outdoor areas as long as they can maintain social distancing,” which implies that live music  is not allowed indoors.

Use of “self-serve” utensils, plates or napkins, are not allowed. Buffets are allowed, but only if staff serves the food to people – no more loading up the plate yourself.

Weddings and catering

Outdoor events are preferable but if you must be indoors, capacity is limited to 50% of the fire marshal’s maximum – and this applies throughout the entire state, unlike the limits for restaurants. Limit six people per table.

“Dancing within 6 feet of another individual is discouraged, with the exception of family members and individuals from the same household.”


Campgrounds may be open to “New Hampshire residents, members, or out of state visitors who have met the 14-day quarantine requirement. Members are not required to meet the quarantine requirement.” Tent and RV sites are open, cabins and other enclosed spaces like yurts can open “at owner’s discretion.”

All reservations must be made online or by telephone in advance. Walk-in registrations are not allowed.

Swimming pools, decks, playgrounds are closed, but restrooms, showers, dishwashing stations and laundry facilities are open. Boat, bicycle and other equipment rental is allowed, within guidelines.

“Operators should require a copy of a NH driver’s license or a signed document from the guest(s) attesting that all the persons staying at the campground/lodging facility remained at a home for at least 14 days before arriving in New Hampshire. … distancing and wore cloth face coverings/masks when within 6 feet of another person during this 14 day “quarantine”. Out-of-state guests should be made aware at the time of the reservation of this requirement and signature.”

For tent camping, campsites limited to 6-8 occupants, with every other site closed for social distancing, and no visitors.

State parks

No water fountains! Bring a water bottle. Playgrounds and boat rentals are closed.

Different areas have different rules but in general, if a ticket is required you may have to buy it in advance, online. This includes the state’s parking areas at Wallas Sands Beach in Rye and South Beach in Hampton.  Check in advance!

Beaches are open at lakes and at the ocean but be prepared to see some facilities shut or limited, and crowding not allowed.

Many off-road vehicle trails have opened, but not all of them.  There are limits on parking and toilets at many facilities.

Outdoor attractions

“Attractions in recreational or natural settings that occur individually or in groups of 10 people or less” can reopen, meaning everything from Zipline tours to kayak rentals to shooting ranges to guided fishing trips to disc golf to petting zoos. Large group attractions or indoor attractions are still closed, including amusement parks, water parks, race tracks, tourist trains, music venues. No horse shows, either.

Amateur sports

Most youth and amateur sporting events can resume although not with spectators. Only people or teams from New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont are allowed at games or practices in New Hampshire.

“All mouth-based activities often encountered with sporting events shall not be allowed. This includes, but is not limited to: spitting, chewing gum, licking fingers, and chewing/spitting sunflower seeds.”


A visit to the salon or barber is going to be less friendly: “No physical contact is allowed with clients that is not necessary to provide services (e.g. no shaking hands or hugging).” Also, no vaping. And wear a mask. 

Locker rooms in gyms are open, but saunas and steam rooms are closed, and no hairdryers are provided.

Gyms can toss out members “who do not comply with requirements” about social distancing and can keep them out “until facility has returned to normal operations after COVID-19 has decreased to low levels of community transmission.”

Overnight camps for kids will open as of June 28, with lots of restrictions.

Bowling is limited to five people per lane, maximum. League play is allowed.

Charity gambling is allowed with limits on players: blackjack can only have 4 players per table but craps, Roulette and poker can have 6.

Pools are open but “all mouth-based activities that are often encountered during swim events, such as spitting in the pool or filling one’s mouth with water and then releasing the water back into the pool, shall not be allowed.”

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301


© 2021 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy